Banff is one of the most popular tourist towns in the Canadian Rockies. Nestled in between Cascade Mountain, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Rundle and Mount Norquay, Banff is the ideal place to visit for a variety of sports and relaxation such as hiking, biking, shopping and views of the Bow Falls right in the middle of town.
As with many major holidays, Banff always has events going on so we decided to spend New Year's Eve in Banff. We made a stop along the Bow River in Banff to do some ice skating first. Needless to say, it was a little nerve wrecking as we were the only ones on the ice and with no lighting and forests either side of us, we just hoped that no hungry critters were anywhere nearby! We lucked out with a clear sky and had a perfect view of the stars in the sky. We even saw some lights on Mount Norquay in the dark and wondered whether they were skiers going down late at night or if the area had something special going on for the New Years evening that we weren't aware of. The red lights zig-zagging along the mountain was peculiar to say the least!
After an hour or so of skating in the cold we decided to head towards Mount Norquay and find a spot to see the fireworks from. Along the road to the top of the mountain popular for skiing, there were several spots where you could pull over and had fantastic views of Banff. Arriving a couple hours too early and finding creative ways to kill time, more cars and surprisingly cyclists, appeared and everyone set up their cameras for the midnight spectacle. Right at midnight, the fireworks went off and the pictures do not do the scenery justice. The mountains were lit up by different colours and it went on for a good 15 minutes. Banff looked incredible between Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain and the fireworks illuminating the area. It was definitely a beautiful way to ring in the New Year!
Right at midnight, the fireworks went off and the pictures do not do the scenery justice. The mountains were lit up by different colours and it went on for a good 12 to 15 minutes. Banff looked incredible between Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain and the fireworks illuminating the area. The fireworks do look rather small in perspective to the massive mountains. They are not as big as some you would see in larger cities but they did still have a variety of colours and different designs if you will.
The fireworks take place on the Park Admin grounds at the south end of Banff Avenue over the Bow River. The street gets crowded as people come out of bars and restaurants to view the fireworks. It was a big reason why we decided to find a spot higher up and away from the crowds to get a good view of the firework show. Another popular spot to watch the fireworks is from Tunnel Mountain. It was definitely a beautiful way to ring in the New Year!
If you are planning on spending the holidays in Banff, make sure you look up at the events taking place in town on New Year's Eve. There are many great restaurant packages available and several places include ringing in the New Year with champagne on the rooftop. New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights in Banff. Although the fireworks have not been since the beginning of the history of Banff, the town has been extremely popular for many celebrations and holidays since the late 1800's.
The introduction of the transcontinental railway through the Bow Valley in the 1880's demanded a town to be built along the way. The discovery of the natural Hot Springs by 3 Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) workers in 1883 only further concreted the idea of building a town not only to house workers but for tourist purposes as well. The town was named in 1884 after the township of Banffshire, Scotland where the president of the CPR was from, George Stephen. The CPR began to heavily promote Banff as an international tourist town and built several incredible hotels along the railway. The grandest of the hotels built was the Banff Springs Hotel which was promoted as a tourist resort and to this day remains the grandest hotel in the Banff area.
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